Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 February 2021
Early warning systems play a significant role in risk mitigation and are one of the most important tools to effectively manage disasters. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami would not have had such a fatal impact if appropriate early warning mechanisms had been in place. Not only can early warning mechanisms protect and save lives, they can help to decrease overall material and economic losses. For example, simply shuttering the windows of a house before a hurricane can reduce the material economic loss by around 50 per cent. Furthermore, before a flood, by simply moving goods to the second floor and driving vehicles out of the flood zone, losses can be decreased significantly. However, especially in developing countries, access to early warning systems remains insufficient. These States are mostly unable to give accurate information to people and supply the appropriate capacities, skills and resources. This shortfall has been reflected in international policy, as the access to, as well as the availability of, multi-hazard early warning mechanisms is targeted to be increased by 2030.
The UN defines early warning mechanisms or systems as follows:
The set of capacities needed to generate and disseminate timely and meaningful warning information to enable individuals, communities and organizations threatened by a hazard to prepare and to act appropriately and in sufficient time to reduce the possibility of harm or loss.
Since this definition of ‘early warning mechanisms’ has a strong focus on a society's or community's capacity, it suits the definition of ‘disaster’ used in this book.
This chapter focuses, as the title suggests, on the question of how to provide the financial means to increase the availability and access to multihazard early warning mechanisms. First, the promotion of early warning mechanisms within the UN system is analysed. Secondly, the connection between climate change and early warning systems is discussed. The third section of this chapter looks at the ILC's work on the Draft Articles and how it deals withearly warning mechanisms. Fourthly, this chapter examines the obligation of non-affected developed States and emerging markets with regard to providing financial assistance to disaster-prone developing States.